I Reeeeeaaaallllllyyyy Need to Get Out More

Cute little cashews on top!
Cute little cashews on top!

What’s pathetic is that I’m just talking about my own YARD.  I went to get my clothes off the line and check on the status of my bananas growing on the tree.  They sure do take a long time!  Then I noticed on the ground CASHEWS!!!!  Wow.  You’d think I’d clue in after a month.  I look up, sure enough, big ol cashew tree.  Lotsa fruit hanging from it.  Reminds me of the aloe…when I got a bad sunburn a few weeks ago I would’ve killed for some aloe.  Over a week later I’m walking out the gate and notice there’s a little bunch of it growing RIGHT THERE.  Is it obvious I don’t pay attention to detail?

Well, I DO know this.  You can’t eat those cashews because they have this poisonous substance on the shell and on the seed itself.  They have to be steamed or processed in a certain way before they’re safe to eat.  The substance is called urushiol and is in the same family as poison ivy.  So I looked up about eating the fruit.  Yeah…not so great either.

Sliced cashew fruit
Sliced cashew fruit

You’re supposed to put salt on it to drain the water out, as it is full of it.    Then they said to cut it into pieces so you can’t tell that it’s real stringy.  It certainly doesn’t smell very good and I have no intention of trying it…but it sure is pretty to look at!  Too bad I can’t eat the cashews…I love those things.  Guess there’s a reason they cost an arm and a leg.

Anyway, I did make it out to the cacao farm and did the 2 1/2 hour tour which was really nice.  They aren’t harvesting at the moment but we did do a tasting and took a nice walk through the farm.  VERY steep hills here.  I hadn’t even been over to that side of the street yet.  What a loser I am.

On the walk up and back down I saw at least 6 poison dart frogs which are always cool.  One was REALLY chunky too and of course, my camera can’t EVER figure out what it’s taking a picture of with these things.  I don’t think I’ve gotten a single non-blurry picture of one EVER.  So here’s a blurry green one and a GOOD red one.  And I’ll throw in a spider for good measure too.

Sorry...blurry poison dart frog
Sorry…blurry poison dart frog
Strawberry poison dart frog
Strawberry poison dart frog
One of those gigantic spiders
One of those gigantic spiders

Once up the hill, we were treated to a view of a lifetime!  And a breeze!  It sure was beautiful up there.  I could’ve stayed all day.

IMG_8805

View from the chocolate tasting platform
View from the chocolate tasting platform

We were given four different chocolates to taste…all from different growers.  The weird thing was that I thought they were infused with certain flavors but apparently they weren’t.  And they all tasted very different from one another.  It just depends on the soil and what other kinds of trees are growing around the cacao which give it that particular flavor.  He compared it to wine tasting.  We snapped the piece in two first to hear how it broke.  We looked at the break and what it looked like.  We smelled it and then let it melt on our tongues, picking up different flavors all throughout the process.  It was pretty neat.

Mmmmm different types of chocolate from several producers
Mmmmm different types of chocolate from several producers

Then we were given some options on mixing the small pieces of chocolate with spices and herbs and even mango that we picked up on the trail.

Chocolate tasting...mix n match!
Chocolate tasting…mix n match!

There was sea salt, pepper, curry, cinnamon, cayenne and another one I can’t remember.  Then there was mint, basil, lemongrass, garlic, thyme and some others.  My favorite was the cinnamon and mango.  It tasted like a peach cobbler.  Oh, we also got a shot glass of very hot liquid chocolate that was very spicy.  I wasn’t crazy about it.

Needless to say, I was pretty stuffed after all of that.  He took us down to the processing room, which was actually beneath his house.  He talked about having to improvise on the grinding methods with things he could find locally at the hardware store.  Then he used a blower to get rid of the shell from the cacao seed after it had been roasted and ground.  It was pretty neat.  We were able to taste some of the chocolate being mixed as well.

Roasted cacao beans
Roasted cacao beans

So that was pretty much my day.  I want to go back up that hill again and look for the frogs…maybe tomorrow.  And I suppose I should look UP and see what’s in the trees, like sloths.  I guess I take it for granted that I work with them so it’s not as fascinating as it used to be when I’d come here on vacation.   And who knows what’ll turn up in my yard next!?!

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4 thoughts on “I Reeeeeaaaallllllyyyy Need to Get Out More

  1. Kay McAnally May 1, 2013 / 7:54 pm

    I always thought I was well traveled before reading your blog. Your photos have provided me with several first times – cocoa pods, cashew fruit, disgusting spider in blender, horrifying beetles, unforgettable nightmare of a roach and adorable little baby sloths and bats and poison dart frogs (scared to ask if they’re deadly). Thank you! I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your posts – whatever happens, its a journey for me, too!

    • StephieD May 1, 2013 / 8:06 pm

      Oh that’s so sweet, Kay! Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoy it…makes me feel good. Poison dart frogs are used (or were used…maybe they still are) by hunters in the forest. They would squeeze the frogs which secrete the poison onto their backs and they would coat the tips of their arrows with it. I believe these were mostly blow arrows, not like bow type arrows. Then they could aim at their target, shoot it with the arrow and wait for it to fall out of the tree. Apparently it’s not too bad for humans…our skin is tough enough to withstand it, but I’m not gonna test that theory!

  2. Auntie M May 1, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    Ok Steph, I think you need to get a job at the cacao farm!! What a wonderful view it has, and then there’s all that cacao to eat! Yep, I think that’s the ticket! The cacao sounds yummy, but I’m not so sure I would like it with all the herbs. Just give me some ice cream to put it on…
    I never knew that cashew trees also bore fruit; heck, I thought the cashews were the fruit! I’m learning so much from you!
    Glad you got to see some of your favorite things, like poison frogs and spiders. Think I’ll stick to puppies and kittens, tho.
    Love ya!

    • StephieD May 2, 2013 / 8:43 am

      Actually I did inquire about volunteering there and I need to check back with him. I was more interested in the processing of the chocolate instead of the clearing of paths, etc. We’ll see! I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts…it’s nice to know I can keep people entertained and informed!!

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